(Photo by Selma Komisky)
By Brittney Perez
I don’t know about you, but growing up, no one ever talked to me about dating or what dating looked like as a Christian. Dating isn’t mentioned in the Bible so even though I started following God at a young age, was in the Word, and attending church; I was still clueless on the subject of dating and how to date well. Back in the early to mid-2000s, dating wasn’t talked about in the church as much as I feel it is now. Back then, the only dating advice I received came from what I saw in the movies and my young friends…yikes! Four failed relationships and a whole lot of heartache and confusion later, I feel I am finally beginning to understand God’s design for “dating” Better late than never!
Today in the church I’ve heard multiple pastors around the country talk about how the studies they teach on the topic of relationships are either the most viewed online or the most packed out when discussed. Why is that? It’s most likely because we place such a high value on relationships and also because we desire/need the advice. How do you date? How do you date well? How do you go about dating when you’ve had bad past dating experiences? Just the thought of dating may already have you checked out, but it doesn’t have to feel like that.
In today’s culture, the concept of dating and what dating looks like is, in my opinion, a very poor representation of how we should actually date. Instead of having an end goal to dating, which should be marriage, we choose to date around because it’s fun or exciting. If things don’t work out we scratch it and move on to the next person. In doing this, and this is assuming we are dating like the world, we allow ourselves to become numb to what dating should look like, and in the process hurt others and ourselves with or without our really knowing it. We live in a world where people are very self-centered. If something isn’t gratifying or serving us, we check out and move on. Our culture is like this in so many ways and unfortunately, we are like this with people. We treat people like products and not individuals and that is very sad. We also don’t really look at ourselves inwardly and where we are at in life.
So how do you date when the present culture tries to dictate to you what dating should look like? To start, I would say that before the dating process even begins we should be looking inward. How do I function on my own without another person? Am I content with where I am at in life single? I’m not saying your life needs to be perfect before dating, because we all have things going on, but we should be self-reflective and honest with ourselves as to where we are at and what direction we are looking to go. The more we know who we are, the more we will be able to be ourselves in the dating process and also gage what we are looking for in a potential partner and what would and wouldn’t make sense. By undergoing this process before dating you will be able to be in a good place when you do date. Remember, when you date you are looking for a life partner, and what better way to start than to really have a grasp on who you are and what you have to offer to another person.
I once heard someone say, “if you want a person of substance you need to be a substantial person.” That was really eye-opening for me. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (NIV). Who are you trying to date and where are you looking? To sum up this verse, “you are who you hang around.” If you are looking for a substantial person, you should be looking in places to find substantial people.
To date distinctly you should be seeking to move away from what our present culture is telling you dating should look like. Remember that dating is as much about you as it is about another person. We all have different backgrounds and histories. No one is perfect, but if we are seeking Jesus and asking Him into our dating process He will guide our steps. Dating distinct as a Christian means stepping away from what culture is telling us and allowing God to define our relationships and what that should look like. Invite Him into that process. It may not be easy at times because we all have different pasts in dating, but taking the time to look inward and allowing Jesus to change our mindsets will give us a healthy foundation to being the person we want to be for the person worth pursuing.